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Norfolk Talk

Chapter F : Divide And Rule

(Paras. 1 to 11)

2. The Ing Thing :  3. Minimalism
4. Adverbs AWOL
5. Tensed-Up :  6. Not Too Good
  7. Plurals :  8. Pluralism
9. It Takes All Sorts
10. The Long, The Short &... :  11. In Charge

1 : Bit By Bit

The opposite of concatenation :
splitting into syllables.
When speaking, we handle parts of words with
semi-automatic ease. This includes "rules" of
dialect, which can be expected to apply at the
lowest level of construction -
("unless otherwise stated").

The type of  hard-O  which, by rule, is doubled,
was  earlier  stated to apply to "start/end" words,
like  over  and  go.
That was a deliberate  oover-  simplification,
designed to lull the new Reader . . .
well, you know the rest !

Now at the "gloves-off" stage, we should look
closely at the vowel occurring at the start/end
of every self-respecting  syllable. E. g. :
chosen  has the double-o, whereas
choke  does not; despite being words of
almost equal, overall, length.

Several words in the latter  (mid-u)  category
have been identified, but they must form a
minority; because multi-syllable words are
so prevalent.
Hence the likelihood of hearing the double-o
more often; and its fame as the
Norfolk Identifier.

This still leaves a  coom(b)   in a bathroom
atoom  [at home].

It should be easier to ascribe the vowel-sound
when the word is obviously a  composite,
e.g. - nowhere, no-one, nobody.
Note : If the stress is laid on  body,  as it may be,
the case falls, and "mid-u" may return.
There is also the [rural] alternative of  noobra
which reverses things !

2 : The Ing Thing

The  -ing  suffix is a standard form of
compositing. The word  going  is one we have
been compelled to use, and to note its own
standard form : a-gorn.
Common as this is, you will be hard pressed
to find any strictly comparable word - e.g.
doing  is a complete exception (see  D.7 ).

The similar words usually end in  -owing
(including  owing  itself !). This being so,
and the  w  intervening, the rule does not
apply in all these cases; any more than it
does with the first syllable e.g.  row  does not
become  roo.

An approximation to the sound of  rowing  is
rarn,  rather than  rorn;  similarly  marn
(the grass),  narn  (being cognisant of),
tarn  (a trailer/boat).

The words starting with  's'  are very different
and highly instructive :-

    (a)  Sowing  (as seeds) is  sarn - as above;

    (b) Sewing (as needlework) is heard
         as for (a) in levelled-down Norwich,
         but as  soo-in  elsewhere.

The last case underlines how Norfolk people
see (i.e. hear)  'talking-proper'  or posh-speech.
After all, their "betters" (the Gentry) would seem
to think that everybody should pronounce their
O's as if every O was, in fact, an EW.
(Gew-on, try it . . .)

They are wrong, inasmuch as the  "Suffolk-O"
is  an EW, yet is not pronounced like standard
English; mainly because the mouth is not
properly rounded.

And  owing  itself? : Arn.  Too bad that this
sounds very like  On,  when it is  a-gorn o-o-on.

3 : Minimalism

When is a composite still a composite? -
when it is only a tense.
OO yis  indeed : just adding a  -d
(if necessary an  -ed ) makes an extra syllable.
(For our purposes, anyway !)

Examples, please:-

    close : Thass as cluss as you'll gi(t)
    ["mid-u"  sound, of course]

    closed : ( 1 more letter, ? still 1 syllable)
    The Nag's Ead, thass cloosed.
    [ no,  not  is closed ].

Try saying 'clo-sed', as in 'devo-ted'.
You will, if you are  devoo(t)ed  to your studies,
see the point; without assuming that the natives
go around saying 'clo-sed' (they don't !).
That is to say : there is stress, or  implied
stress, on each  o.

We  moo   the grass but, as we just noted,
do the  marn.
The mere addition of  -er  has the same
dramatic effect : Less bara yer mar,
then Oi cen gi(t) gorn on moi grarss.
.
See Story R

Norfolk  adds  -er to the word  hind,  giving a
better result than the clumsy "hind-quarters",
namely  hinderpar(t);  which also can be used
freely - in connection with any object.

Hinder,  on its own, means either  rear
(of course) or, on the  contraryhither.
So  hither  &  thither become  hinder  &  yon.

The  Nag's Head  pub [or just some  blook]
bucks any minimalist trend. Hereabouts the
person or institution is given a notch more
respect : either - Fred, (h)e say  or
Tha(t) blook, (h)e say;  but not 'Fred say . . .'

4 : Adverbs AWOL

By imagining  closed  as 'clo-sed', we can make
some sense of the fact that  closely  retains the
"mid-u"  sound of the adjective.
Applying the rule-of-thumb - "does the vowel
fall at the end of the [first] syllable?"
  confirms
the matter : doubtless IF you add  -ly
you add a syllable.

We know that  whoolly  is much used in Norfolk,
and that the word derives from 'whole-ly'.
So the "mid-u" sound is exactly what we should
expect, and ties-in (closely) with  closely  and
other such examples.

Confession  is not only good for the soul,
but necessary for academic integrity.

The confession, at this point, is that words like
closely  probably  don't exist  locally -
regardless of how they  would  be pronounced
if they did!.

Norfolk is happy to use  well  (wal ),  as the
specially-created reverse of  badly
(what's wrong with  goodly?),
but prefers  "a trea(t)"   (See E.6).

Generally, however, we choose to leave our
adjectives unadorned by any  -ly, yet use
them adverbially - without fear or shame.

5 : Tensed-Up

Still in "sackcloth and ashes" mode, we must
admit that the word  chosen  was also badly
chosen - as an example of a "double-o" word.
Yes, it  would  be pronounced thus,
if it were ever employed in speech.

But, as we admitted at the very start, a word
like  spoken  is unknown in Norfolk.
The  -en  ending is  shunned  (para. 7)
like the  -ly  ending, only more so . . .

The  have  participle, being obligatory, is often
pared-down to near-extinction.
Two tenses that look remarkably alike :-

    (a) Oi spook ter (h)im;
    (b) Our spook ter (h)im.

    (Clue : pluperfect comes first).
Presumably, the context (perfect-tense)
can, once again, take the strain.
Speak,  at any rate, is a regular verb.
Irregulars are worse !.

It was claimed (see D.9 ) that   'he done great'
is a blunder which would not occur in Norfolk;
yet our pluperfect  did  is another Cinderella
word (like  went ).

Repeating her mistake, the woman apologised :
Yis, Oi done tha(t) afore.

Consider these alternatives:-

    (a)  Did you goo? - Tha(t) Oi did;
        Where'd (h)e goo? - E wen(t) tha(t) way.

    (b)  Heyya bin? - Tha(t) Oi hev;
        Where'd (h)e goo? - E goo tha(t) way.
Now option  (b)  is  very  much the more likely;
so what is the  likely  Norfolk version of
'He done great'? - - Here done wal.   [can you
spot the two parts of the perfect tense?]

6 : Not Too Good

More recantation : it is  unlikely  that he will have
done well - in so many words. People in Norfolk
are not given to praise, even when it is well-merited.

So our final attempt to translate
'He done great'  is :-
E hen(t) done too bad.
Please note :-

  • Not  badly
  • In Norwich : E in(t)
This grudging praise is only one example of the
renowned Norfolk mastery of  under-statement.
Any relevant book will emphasise this
philosophical approach to life and language.

Continued . . .

  6. (contd.)

The finest instance must relate to the dominant
topic of all conversations (no, not sex or football).
On a typical ultra-cold day, with a spine-chilling
wind-frost, the greeting is :-

    Thass noon too swe(tt)y a-day.
Note :
Too is perfectly in order, here, and retains the  t.
It is not  also  (anorl)  and is pronounced normally
(tew). Today, however, loses its  T.

If it is extremely windy -
Thass a bi(t) draughty inta?.
I can only speculate that the expression noted
by  Skipper - rafty ow'd wather!  is a derivation.

A Norfolk person may be feeling decidedly
'off-colour' (see  I.6 ), yet will admit
only to being  No(t) too fairce.
This is  fierce,  not face; but when did you
last see a  fiercely  healthy individual?

A vast football crowd, filling the Carrow Road
stadium to capacity, may be reported to one of
the few non-attenders as : Yis, sav'rul there . . .

7 : Plurals

Avoiding the  -en  endings, in the perfect tense,
clears the decks for the  "Norfolk Plural" :
the alternative to  s  or  es.

Important examples are  housen
and  yourn  (as  yawn).
Of course the latter is the "possessive" ending,
not a plural !. Fascinating cases are :
meezen   (mice),  fi(tt)en   (feet),  neesen  (nests).

The similar word  hissen  is also out-of-place,
not  being plural; but a Scottish-type variant of
hissalf  (himself).

To complete the neglect of  him/them,
Norfolk's plural : theirsalves.  However,
the plural of  child  is  childer  not childrEN (!!).

Conversely,  the use of -en for plurals has
a potentially dire effect upon many words
ending in those two letters.
A famous example is that broken objects
are merely  broke  (pron.  brook ).
Past-participles, like  taken - made pluperfect -
(i.e.  took)  have been covered in para. 5 above.

Norfolk is not alone in according people,
in the plural or in general, the wrong
conjunction : (e.g.  Them as is, Them what . . .)
Some onnem wooss   [what is]
a-gorn there . . .   means
"Some 
of them  [ H.1 ]  who are going there".

They  is a word usually given the long-drawn-out
vowel  (drant);  but context rules, and - at the end
of a phrase - it is truncated to  'the'  (even  thuh) :
Tha-a-ay do, dorn(t) the?

As we have  already  seen, there are
no plurals in "weights and measures"
a t'ree kor(t)er coo(t)  is a garment of generous
length; but  matter, unbeknown  and various other
words get a gratuitous final  s.

8 : Pluralism

In the same way that the Norfolk tongue finds
many and varied uses for the word  do,  the word
fare  is  greatly  exploited - especially rurally.
Standard English is happy to disregard the word
as archaic, but still recognises a "farewell".

It should come as no surprise that, in Norfolk,
we routinely say : Fare yer wal, agatha -
which is precisely how a  farewell  was born!.
Even in Surrey, a businessman may ask
another if his firm is faring well, or faring badly.

In fact, we  all  know what it means . . .

If the answer is in the negative, a chap feeling
poorly may say : Oi dorn(t) fare noo ma(tt)ers.
Tha(t) fare ter mizzle
  (drizzle) is poised
delicately between actually raining and looking
very like doing so.

So Norfolk usage can highlight the on-going
and forward-looking nature of the term.
See these stories  (yarns) :-

    N.2 : how  a sick person  fared  to get up
                  = attempted  to.
    N.1 : how  the medicine  fares  to gripe him
                  = tends  to, or have the effect of.
An old fellow out-of-form on the
bowling-green exclaimed :
Oi dorn' know woo(t) ha' gone wro-o-ong . . .
Tha(t) fare as if Oi carn'(t) do no-o-othin' roigh(t).

In this case  fare  equates to  seems.

9 : It Takes All Sorts

People are as different as can be. They say,
in Yorkshire, that there's  nowt so queer as folk.

Should two people, in fact, look very much
alike (as may well happen in families) i.e.
they resemble each other, one is said to
blee the other (in Norfolk, not Yorkshire !).

Should a woman happen to be of very
"masculine" appearance, she is termed
Will-Jill.

Slovenly, stupid or mischievous people crop-up
continually; so have been mentioned elsewhere.
Slovenly at  I.10; Stupid at  L.10

Clever people, in the sense of well-educated,
are  hoigh-larned;   but to be  clever  (clavver)
in Norfolk is to be either handsome of
appearance or adroit and dextrous in
certain activities.
(Handsome is as handsome does??)

Jannock   is not confined to E. Anglia
and means fair and/or honest.

A sneaky or crafty person is a  draw-latch.
Given that a latch (noun) is the same all-over,
you can picture the scene (if you recall that
draw  can mean 'drag').
Somebody nosing around is said to be peerkin'.

To  draw along  is to move slowly (drag, dawdle).

A disagreeable person is a  puke
- a word since appropriated for other uses!.
A supercilious person is graphically described
as a  sneerfroys;  but to be  nasty-particular
(narsty-patic'la)  isn't as bad as it sounds.
It merely means fastidious or very precise.

10 : The Long, The Sort And . . .

Many people are blessed (or cursed) with
short stature and other physical attributes.

Ti(tt)y-to(tt)y   means very small,
so is usually reserved for children.
A short, squat person is a  dop-a-low[ly],
taken from  dop - meaning a perfunctory
curtsey (short & quick).

A similar word (also related to a famous
Liverpool comedian) is  doddy,  or
hoddy-doddy;  also meaning - of short stature.

Somebody may be  knap-kneed   (knap  being
an old form of  knock );  or may walk with the
toes turned outward i.e.  slop-foo(t)ed 
(or  kor(t)er ter t(h)ree).
To limp is to  himp,  if you are  (h)impy-lairme.

Walking unencumbered, quickly and
with long strides, is to  strome.
Taking long strides (i.e. to  lope)  is also called
lampin' along   in Norfolk.
[lamp and  limp  wouldn't work together . . .]

An agile, sprightly person (usually quite old,
so you would particularly notice the fact . . .)
is said to be  kedgy.

Lean and lanky is  squinny;  although a skinny, ill-fed person of any height is  scrawny.

Finally, a good example of the perversity noted
elsewhere : given that ears are  lugs  in Norfolk.
If a person is  luggy,  one might assume he/she
has big ears. But, in the contrary sense, it means
the ears (of whatever size) are not working well,
i.e. the person is  hard  of hearing.

11 : In Charge

Some people are born leaders and dominant
personalities (many are not tall!).
nailer  is domineering or very determined;
and a  stifler   always seems busy;
and usually takes the lead.
The farm foreman is probably accorded
the title  Hid Stifler.

To be  uprigh(t)  is no great compliment :
it simply means not having to  work  for a living!

To have  jurisdiction   of something does not
imply legal training or State powers : it is simply
being in charge (having the governance of)
that matter.
A wife, feeling unable to handle a business
enquiry in the absence of her  Lord and Master,
may say :-
Noo, moi man (h)e (h)ev jurisdiction-a tha(t);
you'll ha(tt)er wair(t) till E gi(t) (h)oom.

It is, of course, up to the foreman or other Boss,
to see that things are kept in good order.

Other parts of the U.K. would describe a thriving
enterprise (e.g. a farm) as being in "good kilter".
In Norfolk it is  kel(t)er.

Modern technology is viewed with suspicion,
at any time : even the humble draughtsman's
approach to paper-plans was derided as :
A loine an' a rule goide [guide] many a fule.

A defender of old practices, and established
crafts, may complain about "new-fangled"
inventions & gadgets as  them modern pearks.

If something is untidily packed,
he will complain that it is  wibbled.
On the other hand, something emerging in
perfect shape (from the production process)
will be praised as being free of fault/mistake :-
There 'en(t) a wry in 'em!
[the opposite of going  awry].


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